Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teaching Our Children To Trust

Relationships are HARD. Period.
Any kind of relationship in any kind of setting will have it's struggles and it's rough patches. No two people will get along every moment of every day. 

One of the most common reasons for trouble in relationships is a lack of TRUST. This can stem from SO MANY things in our lives but I think the root of the problem often begins with our childhood experiences. 
Trust is cultivated in our homes, with our parents.. even as tiny babies!
You cry and someone picks you up, feeds you, changes your diaper.. and in time, even as a baby, you begin to TRUST that if you cry someone will come and help you. For the most part children trust their parents naturally. As long as they are well taken care of and shown love this begins as a natural instinct for us but sadly as we grow that same trust can easily be broken. In the simplest of ways, the trust which is natural to us at first may become something we cannot easily do. 

Why is that? 

I found this picture on Pinterest with the following caption... 

"My father used to do this with me when I was a baby. People always looked really anxious and asked him what he was doing. He would simply reply, "I'm teaching her to trust me."

I think the message that lies in this simple photo is very valuable... Our children NEED to know that they can trust us. It can stem from something as simple as what is depicted in this photo or from promises made and kept, but one way or another they need to know that they can always count on you. 

It's true that trusting others can sometimes hurt us but the fear of trust causes us to miss out on much more!  I've been around children who aren't at peace on the edge of your lap for fear of falling and sometimes that saddens me. That fear in itself IS NOT wrong... but how much better is it for our children to know that we will hold on tight and not let them get hurt? 

Trust is necessary for obvious reasons, but it children it is even more essential. 
-Trust is why a child know that if they misbehave they will be in trouble.
-Trust is what makes a child feel safe in your arms.
-Trust allows love to grow.
-Trust is what convinces your child you will return when you leave them. 
-Trusting others makes us stronger!

When we make promises that aren't kept (including the promise of negative consequences!) our children learn that they shouldn't trust us. They learn that SOMETIMES what Mommy or Daddy says ISN'T TRUE! I think I speak for everyone when I say that that's not what we want them to learn. I encourage you to be careful of making promises on a whim, of turning back on what you say, of lying to them (or to others around them). Our children come from who we are, they learn from the things they see us do and say. Often children learn more from the things we inadvertently teach them then from the lessons we purposefully bring to them.

Consider the thought.. Can your children truly trust you?
They are loved, well taken care of, nurtured.. and maybe you are a wonderful parent.. but don't miss out on the opportunity to teach your child to TRUST you. The trust that they build up for you will give them the ability to trust others when they need to in the future.

Teach them that you mean what you say. Teach them you can always be trusted. 
Teach them love.
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

15 Reasons Why I Label My Classroom
(& Why You Should Too!)

Labeling a classroom is a very important part of educating young minds. It gives them a great start in the process of reading & learning many skills they will need to learn and function well. :) Read on to hear why I think this is essential for an early childhood and elementary classrooms.

  1. It's a HUGE Time Saver- If the things in your classroom all have an organized place where they belong it makes it so much easier to locate exactly what you need at any given time! Need a spur of the moment activity? A book on a specific subject? A pattern? Then design and organize your room in such way where you can have your hands on whatever you need in mere minutes.
  2. Reading Recognition- What better way to learn words then to see them posted all around you everyday?? 
  3. Name Recognition- Put children's name on anything that belongs to them. This helps with so many things that they need. (Chairs and/or tables, Cubbies, Spots in circle time, In a place to line up, Etc.. ) Labeling items like these helps kids with not only reading and recognizing their own names but the names of their friends too. Also.. Social skills are improved when they can help each other find the correct spots and associate a special place for each friend.
  4.  Matching- Matching is an important skill for a young child. Use something like an attendance chart and put their names on both the main background and on a removable piece they can use to match when they arrive at school. (See my Apple Tree Attendance Chart)
  5.  Sorting- Labeling toy buckets is a good way to teach children to sort like objects into different places. Teach them to sort things into the correct boxes by labeling any boxes or shelves that hold toys.
  6.  Teaching Independence- When a child can accomplish something on their own it helps them to feel independent. When they can observe their surroundings and use label's (either in word or picture form) to help them complete a task it makes them feel accomplished and proud. Put your labeled toy bins on your shelving in the way that you would like them to stay and take a photo. Laminate the photo and attach it to the side of your shelf. Then, at clean up time have the children refer to the photos to put it away correctly.
  7.  Help- Lets face it.. if your students can accomplish #6 it's incredibly helpful!
  8.  Rules & Expectations- You cannot expect a young child to do anything perfectly but you CAN expect them to do their very best. Helping them to do so by providing expectations for clean up time and showing them where things belong in a way they can understand helps them to appreciate the fact that you know you can depend on them to do the right thing. 
  9. Routines- Make a list of your daily activities in bold bright colors. Use pictures for help if the age necessitates this. Work in clocks & time if your children are beginning to understand those concepts. Knowing what comes next is often very comforting.. even to me!
  10.  Awareness of Surroundings- Sometimes the world around us is a lot to take in. Labeling pin-points things that you want to make sure your class sees or focuses on.
  11.  Vocabulary Boosts- For a child every word is a new adventure. I remember the time my sister first learned to spell the word 'ham'... (Everyone around her was reminded of how to spell it 20 times a day..:P)
  12.  Education Opportunities- Children never fail to ask the question "why?" when they do, you have an opportunity to teach them something.
  13.  Organization- This applies to children, you as a teacher, and other teachers who may happen to be in your classroom (like a sub). When things are easily found and easy to put away everyone gets along better and has a more pleasant experience in your classroom. This also ensures that you will never leave your children without something to do or a sub without something to teach.
  14.  Cleanliness/ Germs/ Safety- When things that belong to specific kids are kept in specific places.. (like bins, cots, or cubbies) it helps prevent the spread of germs.
  15. It Looks Nice- An organized space always looks nicer then a cluttered one! :)
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Apple Core Craft

How to make the Apple Core: 

1. Cut a curved edge off the opposite sides of regular sized paper plate.
2. Have the children put glue on the rough plate edges, top & bottom.
3. Attach stem and leaf onto the back side of plate.
4. Use black paint to make the apple seeds in the center of the completed apple core.

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Witches Brew Classroom Door

I made this Halloween themed door for my classroom! Scroll down for a closer look at the witch's potion shelf that holds all the ingredients for teaching potions! :)
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10 Ways To Teach Children (And why they are all important!)

No two kids are exactly alike and as such they all need different things to learn well. You can't go about teaching in only one way and expect everyone to learn the information. Our brains work differently from each other and we need a variety of tools to help us reach our full potential... AND SO DO OUR KIDS! :)

Based upon that thought I bring you...
  1. Talk About It- The first thing to do is to get the subject matter out there. Start the lesson with your class and briefly explain the topic you want to teach. Put the words they need in their ears so they have some familiarity with them as a groundwork for learning. Tell them the basics... (Who? What? When? Where? & How?)
  2. Show It- Talk about and display the steps of an action. Stand up and act it out. Show pictures or video clips. Use a diagram or props to show what you want them to learn. 
  3. Play Pretend- Use whatever it is the kids are playing with to talk about the lesson. Bring it up at playtime and use the fact that its "fun time" to your advantage. Slip in bits of information and relate it to what they are doing at the time. If possible act out the lesson with toys or games. 
  4. Remind Them- Bring up the lesson regularly throughout your day. Bring it up at lunch and snack when they are quiet and attentive. Talk about it while you walk down the hall. In transition use it to bring everyone back to focus. Keep it in the front of their minds. 
  5. Display What They Know- Make a new poster or book based on the lesson. Do an art project with them that is a good example of what they are learning. Send home information about what you are working on so it can be incorporated at home as well. 
  6.  Make It Relate-able- Do they come across this at home? Are you learning about something they see on a regular basis but may not realize? Point that out! Host a show & tell that relates to the topic and have everyone bring something familiar to share.
  7. Reinforce The Topic- Always teach things more then once. Repetition is KEY with children. They likely won't remember if only told once.. but after several times they will start to memorize and be able to recall. 
  8. Read About It- Find books or other similar resources that relate to what you are teaching and share them with the kids. Discuss what's happening in the pictures and how it relates to what you are teaching. 
  9. Sing About It- Find songs that relate.. or make one up to the tune of a familiar song! :)
  10. Change It up- Teach topics in a one on one setting, in small groups and in large groups. Some students are distracted easily and don't learn best in a 'circle time' format... others learn best with the example of others in a large group. 
 These methods of teaching have been helpful to me and I hope that they are to you as well. :) 

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

So Cute It's SCARY!

  I designed this bulletin board for Halloween outside my classroom! :) This kids loved taking their "scary" pictures for our board! :) 

The haunted house is made completely from a brown poster board, construction paper, a white crayon and a sharpie. I simply cut the shape of the house from the construction paper and used the black paper to make the details and framework of the house. Then I added the smaller touches to make it pop! :) 

For the photos I framed them with a sheet of orange construction paper. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Here at Our School: Fish Bulletin Board

I designed this bulletin board this Summer based on the idea of paper plate fish found on Pinterest through a friend & co worker. :)

How To Make The Fish:
  1. Have each student paint a whole paper plate & let them dry.
  2. Cut a triagle from each plate and attach to the opposite side of the plate, making a tail.
  3. Cut out eyes (like these) or have the children attach large googly eyes above the cut out mouth. 
(For the bubbles I simply cut blue circles in varying sizes from blue construction paper and hung around the fish.)

Making It Yours

These classroom decals came from Dollar Tree.. :) I liked them... but I wanted a way of making them my own so I came up with these unique saying to write on each of them and make them appear to be more of a matching set rather then 3 separate sets!

MILK the most out of every day!
Be a smart COOKIE!
Help each other KETCHUP!
Give a big SQUEEZE!
Go NUTTY for learning!
Help out in a JAM!

Photos In The Classroom

If you're anything like me you love photos. Photos of the children in your class can add something personal and special to your classroom and help them relate to their environment. The kids in my classes have always loved seeing their pictures used as decorations, learning tools and as part of a project. 
Ideas For Learning With Photos:
  • Take a picture of each child with their first initial or name. 
  • Use your class as models in homemade flashcards. (They can 'model' anything from shapes, colors, letters, numbers.. etc)
  • Take photos of motions (as in Simon Says) and use them as signal cards in the game.
  • Take pictures of toy shelves (as put away properly) to help students independently clean up the classroom.
  • Keep a series of photos logged for each child for easy use with projects, games & decor in the room.
  • Take photos of each child, cut each photo in half and place the halves of all photos into a bin, creating a puzzle game for your class.
  • Use photos in worksheets.. (Ex. Photo of Child holding name & letter magnets. Instruct child to see & spell their name.

You can also use photos to make sweet homemade greeting cards or gifts!!
 Write anything on a sheet of paper to make instant greeting cards. Male sure to leave enough room for the child to hold the paper without covering up the message!

Children Teach Us

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